Switzerland announces new Christmas restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

Switzerland announces new Christmas restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge
Health workers are seen at the emergency care unit for patients infected with Covid-19 at the hospital of La-Chaux-de-Fonds. AFP
Switzerland’s government has ordered new national restrictions for Switzerland ahead of Christmas to curb the increasing rate of Covid-19 infections.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, the Federal Council outlined new rules that will go into effect on December 12th, mostly reiterating the measures it had already announced previously:

  • Up to five people from two households can gather for private events, with exceptions for celebrations for up to 10 people from December 24th to 26th, and on December 31st for Christmas and New Year festivities.
  • Sports and cultural activities will be limited to five people, and museums and will have to remain closed Sundays and public holidays.
  • Public demonstrations are banned, except for religious celebrations.
  • Restaurants and bars will have to close at 7 pm, instead of 11 pm as is currently the case. An exception will be made for December 24th and 31st, when they can remain open until 1 am.

However, restaurants in the cantons that have been able to maintain their R rate below 1 will be allowed to stay open until 11 pm.

This is the case for the Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Valais, which have been able to lower their contamination rate due to a raft of measures that had been taken in November.

In granting this exemption, authorities responded to a joint call from the six cantons to allow them to continue under current conditions.

READ MORE: Why are Switzerland's French-speaking cantons rebelling against planned new Covid-19 restrictions?

However, the Federal Council specified that if the R rate in the exempted cantons should rise above 1, they will have to follow the same restrictive rules as other cantons.

The measures, which will be in effect until January 22nd, are being implement due to the worsening of the epidemiological situation in Switzerland.

 “We're witnessing an exponential increase,” President Simonetta Sommaruga said in a press conference.

“Our hospitals and our health workers are being stretched to the limit. We couldn't wait any longer.”

Health Minister Alain Berset added that the restrictions are put in place “to avoid total shutdown”.


 


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